Ebola Treatment Center now open in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

January 17, 2019 • Congo

Samaritan’s Purse is responding to a deadly Ebola outbreak in Central Africa.

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Samaritan’s Purse opened an 18-bed Ebola treatment center in Komanda in northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Jan. 17.

Medical teams are ensuring the comfort and expert care of every patient as they serve in Jesus’ Name.

“By coming to treat people with this difficult disease, we as Christians are showing God’s love and concern for them,” said Elliott Tenpenny, director of our international health unit and team lead in the DRC.

Our treatment center, which can be expanded to 54 beds if needed, was constructed and properly equipped for water and sanitation over the span of about two weeks. Patients are cared for in the isolation unit until lab results indicate whether they have been infected with Ebola.

Samaritan’s Purse played a leading role during the 2014-2015 outbreak in Liberia and four other West African countries. We treated thousands of Ebola patients and led a massive public education program to warn people how highly contagious Ebola is so they could take precautions to avoid it.

We began a similar education program four months ago in the DRC, where Samaritan’s Purse has been operating for the past eight years. Our first focus has been on training and equipping local health workers to help them avoid contracting the virus while treating Ebola patients.

  • Our medical teams practice donning their personal protective equipment so that they can safely care for Ebola patients.
    Our medical teams practice donning their personal protective equipment so that they can safely care for Ebola patients.

The center is part of our Emergency Field Hospital and was flown to Africa by our DC-8 cargo plane. We have more than 40 medical and non-medical staff on the ground and more than 60 Congolese staff have also been hired from local communities. All our staff have received extensive training in infection protection and control and donning their personal protective equipment.

“When I see my fellow Congolese people suffering from Ebola, I am sad, but it challenges me to help them so that one day they will recover and be strong,” said Sarah Ngaka, one of our local staff.

More than 300 people have died since this Ebola outbreak was declared Aug. 1, making it the second deadliest surge of the disease in recorded history. At least 600 more people are fighting for their lives amidst an escalating outbreak of the Ebola virus that is resulting in at least seven new cases each day. Supportive care and other interventions are savings lives, though the current fatality rate is still about 60 percent.

“People are feeling very low. They are very scared,” said Adele Bong, Samaritan’s Purse monitoring and evaluation advisor. “What makes the difference is someone who is there showing the love of Christ. That could be the difference between life and death.”

Samaritan’s Purse has significant experience responding to Ebola in light of our work during the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa, which killed more than 11,000 people. Please continue to pray for the people of the eastern DRC and for our teams as they serve.

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